Friday, April 4, 2014

Charity begins at home

I am so happy to say that I have my monthly allotment of charity quilts done and delivered -- for April and for May! That never happens. But, I'm a bit busy with some administrative work and I wanted to make sure that the baby quilts for the hospital got done. And since they were done, they might as well be delivered.  No sense having them here and then maybe forgetting them.

They are certainly varied. The "charity" part is that almost all the fabric was donated by friends and all I had to do was repurpose it. How sweet is that! Free fabric already in triangles or  4patches. Oh, yes, that's my kind of charity.
This quilt and the one below were made with triangles that monkeymamaquilts had leftover from a class we took at our local guild. I have railed about this pattern (instructions were dreadful) and waste of fabric (see what I mean). I won't go into it again, here. Nevertheless, I was thrilled to get her scraps and see what I could do to make them into quilts. The blocks finish at 8.5" or 9", I think.
For both of these, I practiced new "filler" quilting to see if I liked it and if it would work on a larger quilt. The answer for both is "yes" -- but I have some work I need to do to get better.
This little quilt was made from scraps from mom22smartchix and all I had to do is put the squares and 4 patches together. Love that! I practiced random free hand feathers for the quilting. Oh, my -- so much more to do in that area. I think it can work well for a boy or a girl and it's happy.
The owl fabric here is darling and the quilt is actually much cuter than it looks in the picture. The owls were compliments of mom22smartchix and were leftover from a baby quilt she had made for a friend. Because the motifs were big (and cute), I wanted to maximize the fabric and went with larger blocks. I practiced quilting flowers in each block. The flowers were fun and I'll definitely try them again.

So -- charity begins at home and I am fortunate to have a number of "charitable" friends who gift me parts and fabric periodically. I am oh-so-happy to play with them and see what can be done to pass on their blessing to someone else.

I hope your finding blessings along the way this week!


Monday, March 24, 2014

My March Madness

I love college basketball.  I am in Kentucky.  You pretty much have to love basketball and horse racing --- and maybe bourbon.

I'm happy to say that I have another Lollypop block done, thanks to a few hours of great (and not so great) basketball this past week.  It's actually very helpful to be focused on stitches and not plays and then count on instant replay to get you up to speed.  There are some "tension" issues on a few of the elements in this block and I'm blaming it on close games.
So -- six (of 16) are done, along with six (of 36) small border blocks.  The border blocks that you see here will finish at 4"x4" or 4"x6" and were a great way to use random scraps that were left over from the larger blocks.
I certainly need a break from appliquéing to let my fingers heal a bit.  But there is more basketball later this week. For Kentuckians, it's a big game. Louisville vs. Kentucky. And there are not many people in this state that are neutral. You bleed red or you bleed blue when these teams play. Once the winner is decided, there is a very small population that will cheer on the winning team that just happened to be your opposition in the previous game. I fall in that camp. I will vehemently root for the team that beat my guys.
For those of you who live in states where baseball or hockey or football are important, you know what I mean.  When we were in Chicago -- you were either a "southsider" (White Sox) or "northsider" (Cubs) but in the 10 years that I was there, I never heard "both"! I certainly knew people that didn't care either way -- if someone cared -- they cared about a particular team and often in a big way.

How wonderful for quilters that we often have a completely different approach ---

Applique or piecing?  Both

Batiks or cottons?  Both

Hand quilting or longarming?  Both

Brights or midrange?  Both

Machine applique or hand applique?  Both

Flannels or homespuns?  Both

Modern quilting or precision piecing?  Both

Solids or prints?  Both

We are happy to play in multiple sandboxes and -- if we don't -- we do not judge others who do.  Instead, we appreciate them and often want to learn from them.  So -- as much as I love some sports, I love quilting even more, don't you??

I hope you are having a great week of March Madness full of things that you love!


Friday, March 14, 2014

Surgery or a Band-aid?

I have a dilemma and I would deeply appreciate your thoughts.

This is a quilt that I made years ago for our son's girlfriend (who I'm happy to say is now my daughter-in-law and mother of our only grandchild).  With most any quilt, there are factors that make it special (at least to the quilt maker).  In the case of this quilt there are two:

  • She was working with leaf cutter ants as part of her PhD in microbiology.  Thus, the ant fabric was the genesis for what other fabrics would be used.

  • I paper pieced the Canadian maple leaf on the back.  I can't remember how many pieces are in this but I wanted to honor her with a special label. I will not do this again although I'm sure there is an easier pattern out there.  This is not my forte!

The dilemma is this.  I did not have easy access to a long arm machine at the time and quilted it on my Bernina.  I did straight line quilting about an inch apart and changed directions periodically for interest. But, all stitching was on the diagonal.  I really liked the look of it.

Now, several years later (8 to be exact) and after lots of use, the quilting stitching is breaking.  A lot.  I have the quilt in my possession and was going to repair it but was startled to find more than 30 breaks that range from 1'-1.5" to 3"-4".  And I suspect there are more -- this is black thread on a lot of black fabric and hard to see.

So -- I can only see two options:

1.  I can fix the black linear stitching like I had planned.

The good, bad, and ugly are:  I can do it pretty quickly; it will keep the linear stitching; and it will probably continue to rip out over time when the quilt is used.  So -- basically, it's fast and nothing else changes.  Essentially, a band-aid.

2.  I can put the quilt on Lola and quilt it with a more 'fluid" design in a different color thread and pick out the black stitching.  

The good, bad, and ugly are:  It will take longer; the linear "look" will be gone once I take out the black stitching; and it will be more secure with stitching going in lots of directions.  Essentially, surgery.

At the heart of the matter (I think) is whether the quilt is worthy of being saved.  It's not a show quilt and certainly not fancy.  It gets lots of use in a home that appreciates and loves my quilts and it's not the only quilt they have.  My son and daughter-in-law are NO help.  I mean NONE!  I believe they would be happy with either.  I am not happy with the fidelity of my stitching not being secure but I have never put a finished quilt on a long arm and then ripped stitching.  I cannot figure out whether it's "worth" it or not.  I am usually pretty decisive so being in limbo (or denial) is a new occurrence for me.

I welcome your thoughts and questions!

I hope you are finding time to create and not hamstrung by decisions!


Saturday, March 8, 2014

Fabric, Selvage, and Bunnies!

Don't you just love this fabric?  Who wouldn't love tumbling owls! This is being used as a border in a baby dedication quilt for a couple locally.  It's sort of a compilation quilt with three of us getting it completed.  My part is done and I've passed it along to the next lucky quilter.
Other than making the top for the dedication quilt, I've spent the last weeks working on Lollypops which I won't bore you with.  Suffice it to say that all 36 of the small border blocks are glued down (not appliquéd!) and 11 large blocks are laid out and ready to be glued.  Yippee!  This is slow going -- much like watching paint dry.

During all the 'fun' of creating, I was notified by Lee at Freshly Pieced Modern Quilts (one of the blogs that I follow and periodically link to) that I had won a $25 gift certificate to Pink Chalk Fabrics.  If you have never checked out Lee's blog, it's worth your time.  She is creative, posts frequently, and loves fabric.  Check her out.  Often.

Who doesn't like hearing that they have won free stuff -- particularly at an online fabric shop.  Now, in reality, I had never heard of Pink Chalk Fabrics but I had loads of fun deciding how to spend my money.  You know the drill -- notions?  blenders?  sale fabric?  something really special?  All very important questions.  By all means, if you haven't shopped at Pink Chalk Fabrics, it's worth a look.  Great fabrics.  Good prices.  Good selection.

I finally decided on two cuts of children's fabric that I can use in my baby quilts for the local hospital. To maximize my spend, I went with good fabrics that were in the sale section.  I adore them.  Check out this fabric --
This is a Moda from Japan with the absolutely cutest selvage I have ever seen. Look at those little bunnies.  Tell me you have seen anything cuter in a selvage!

I am happy to say that I have not gotten on the selvage bandwagon.  I regularly admire the art created by those who are selvage lovers.  It's one of the few quilting bandwagons that I haven't jumped on and I remain committed to staying away from it.  But, these little selvages are too cute to throw away.  So, if you are a selvage lover and would like a set of "bunnies" -- I'm happy to tear an inch down the side and send a set to the first three folks who send me an email at   They are just too sweet not to be put to good use or at least admired by someone who loves selvages.

I hope you are finding fabric that makes you happy!


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Lola -- L O L A -- Lola!

Can you hear the music in your head?
I'm thrilled to say that Lola moved in with us in early October. She is a HandiQuilter Avante with no fancy computers -- just tolerant of my learning curve and a great temperament. I am living my dream with my own long arm. I never thought I would have one and so this is the best ever.

I have been so fortunate in my quilting world. I first had LogCabinQuilter who trusted me enough to train me on her Gammill and then rent the machine to me. At that point, I could only do loops and those weren't very good. I could not fathom pantographs and how to line them up so I frequently paid her to finish some quilts that were important to me.  Particularly when wonky loops weren't right.
I then was lucky enough that MacQuilts gave me complete access to her home (when she was there and when she wasn't) and I used her Gammill (Sadie). I was able to make progress in my quilting and learn to do more things. After moving to Kentucky, I went back frequently for quilting marathons and to see friends. I have been known to quilt six quilts in 2.5 days. Yikes - did my shoulders and knees hurt for a few days - plus I had a 7.5 hour drive to and from! But again - more generosity and trust.

After getting settled in Kentucky, MonkeyMamaQuilts opened her doors and gave me free rein on her HQ16 (Ethel -- she also has a more sophisticated Fusion with a computer who is named Loosey). I was able to start working on my backlog of tops and get back to a more regular schedule of long arming.

Fast forward to August or September when Mr Iquiltforfun and I were talking about how wonderful it would to have my own long arm so I could improve my skills. When you are invading someone else's home, there is a bit of pressure to get in, get it done, and let them get back to their lives. That was completely internal and my issue. Not theirs. They couldn't have been more accommodating for those times when I had to leave a quilt on their machine and come back later.
The other complication here is that it meant the machine would have to go in the living room. I love my living room. It has great morning light. It is separate from the family room and kitchen and there is a bit of privacy. And, the idea of taking over our "parlor" was a stumbling block for me. Never mind that EVERY single member of my family told me I should make the living room my studio before we ever moved in the house. But I couldn't. And in the spirit of full disclosure, I realized last summer that we had not entertained in there once in the two years we had been in the house!  Not once!

So -- Lola is in the living room and having a couch is quite convenient when I need to ponder next steps. Am I getting better? Not yet. Am I trying new threads and new techniques and playing when I want to? I sure am! I have no intention of starting a business and taking on the pressure of showing good faith in making a profit nor working on someone else's masterpiece. MacQuilts said it best when she told me one time that I would go nuts trying to fix someone else's mistakes and would hate every minute of it. And she's right. I'm happy to do charity quilts for a few people. I'm happy to share Lola with friends and family who might want to use her. I'm happy to learn about tension and know that the world won't come to an end if I mess it up!
This was a challenge quilt from fabric that MacQuilts bought for Mom22smartchix and me about two years ago. I love this fabric by Andover Fabrics. And I had enough to make two quilts. This is the first one and the quilting is called "continuous curves" (or CC). This quilt is symbolic of what it means to have my own long arm. This took forever!  It looks easy and it should be.  But it is not easy for me to be consistent so most of these were done with a template and very carefully for a number of reasons. I would never ever have been able to do this on someone else's machine. I sometimes worked for 10 minutes before church. I sometimes work for three hours. I sometimes didn't work at all if I wasn't on my "A" game since I'm a bit intimidated by ruler work. But, it's finished! I often would go into the living room and just look at it.  The texture when the light was right made me ever so happy.
And Lola makes me ever so happy!  Now when I want to see my friends, I can "visit" and not engage in a quilting marathon.  That also makes me ever so happy!

I hope there is something in your life that is making you ever so happy!


AND -- as an aside -- here's something to make you ever so happy!

Have you heard?  Keepsake Quilting is giving away fabric for 20 years to one quilter!  How about that?

All you have to do is click on this link to enter.  It's simple. It's fast. And it could mean fabric for the rest of your life -- or at least 20 years!  Give it a go….and enjoy!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Quilting Olympics!

Seriously -- I feel like I'm in a marathon--a quilting marathon.
I'm happy to say that I have one more Lollypop block appliquéd!  I'm not quite as happy to say that I have no more in the pipeline that are ready to start stitching.

What I do have is a huge mess in my playroom.  I have fabric all over the floor which is actually working better than when I tried to sort by color.  This quilt has 16 lollypop blocks and 32 smaller border blocks.  I have a total of five quilt blocks and two border blocks done.  Completely done!

I have spent the last 2-3 weeks working on laying out the remaining 11 quilt blocks.  It is a slow slow process for me and I have six blocks with fabrics selected and the components cut out and completely prepped.  They are ready to spot glue to the polka-dot fabric.  My goal is to get all 11 quilt blocks (and border blocks) prepped and then have a gluing marathon.  I do think there is some "economy of scale" in the assembly line approach as I remember my "tricks of the trade" and don't have to refresh and re-learn each time I start.
Either way -- it's slow.  The fabrics are beautiful.  It's a little overwhelming.  And it's rewarding to finish one and see the pile get a little smaller (of course, another pile is getting larger at the same time).  I'm beginning to miss it which is a good thing.  But right now, I can barely get to it for fabric all over the place!  You can see here what "fussy cutting" does to a quarter yard cut.  It took me a while to reconcile my need to save fabric with the obvious design requirements for this particular quilt!

I hope you are having a rewarding time creating something wonderful!


PS -- thanks to all for your comments and spontaneous prayers for the young couple I mentioned in my last post.  As I understand it, Ethiopian adoptions will continue and they remain somewhere on the list to increase their family one of these days.  Very exciting!